We studied a group of 31 temporal lobe epilepsy patients (25 left, 6 right) with unilateral hippocampal sclerosis evident on magnetic resonance imaging. Single slice T2 relaxation times were acquired for the left and right hippocampi. Principal components analysis of preoperative memory data resulted in two factors that reflect a distinction between arbitrary and semantic forms of verbal recall. The former component correlated with left hippocampal T2 relaxation time, while the latter component did not. This study suggests that variation in left hippocampal integrity is more related to the acquisition of arbitrary associates than semantically structured material, and reinforces the possibility that the left temporal lobe is functionally heterogeneous with respect to memory.